What is the essence of effective business communications? Well, many would agree that the ability to make one’s self understood in a professional setting is at the center of the concept. However, keeping in mind our quickly changing times, it’s apparent that developing true proficiency in business communications involves more than we may have originally assumed.
Here, we will explore some essential practices and tips for communicating successfully in a business setting.
It used to be simply a matter of knowing how to construct a quality business letter, for example. You were polite, used common language, and were deferential but authoritative to superiors or clients, and used proper format.
In person, you smiled, shook hands confidently, treated each other respectfully, had coffee and generally sat somewhere pleasant to discuss details and expand your understanding of each other’s needs and abilities.
You followed similar guidelines for phone etiquette, remembering to prepare yourself aptly for both inbound and outbound calls.
To some extent we still make use of these aforementioned practices, but taking the place of the formal business letter is an e-mail communication. Instant messaging and texting have taken over much of our conversational habits, and slowly displacing the in-person meetings are Wi-Fi, LAN, and Internet supported Net-meetings.
Amazing inroads have been made in terms of the interview process, and meetings in general. In setting up a Net-meeting or Skype conference, you can chat with prospective hires and interview them from across the country without having to fly people in and put them up at hotels. Not only is it more economical, but it is more time efficient, allowing both parties to return to their previous work and endeavors by cutting out travel time.
Benefits of Video Communication
We live in a time of converging generational norms. What makes this present day and age stand out is the vast difference in communication styles between the younger and older generations. Through technology, our culture has developed a new style of communication, demarcated by texting abbreviations, acronyms, and even subtle changes in expressive language.
However, since the dawn of the regular use of email in the 90s, it could be argued that this may have been an issue for longer than we thought. Most of us who regularly communicate electronically, know that the misunderstandings and misinterpretations that occur through electronic conversations would usually have never transpired if both parties were corresponding verbally or face-to-face. Much can be lost in translation of the written word, especially when responses are impromptu or impulsive, coupled with the absence of voice tone and inflection. The use of emoticons and certain acronyms can help alleviate some of these challenges however their use is usually not fitting for professional communications.
For that reason, we can see how video eliminates many of these problems because you get to see facial expressions and body language, and of course, actually hear the person you are communication with. Beyond phone communication, which of course, is just second to video communication in terms of deciphering voice nuances and variation, video is, perhaps ironically, ideal for eliminating the pitfalls of communication in the age of technology.
Communications Courses, Books and Workshops
The options are vast if you decide you want to brush-up on your business communications proficiency. Communication is a progressive skill, one that is forced to change with changing times and situations; so obtaining a greater aptitude in this area is always beneficial.
Direct Training for Practical Communications can teach people how to handle crises; how to successfully communicate complex subject matter; how to create sustainable employee engagement; or simply how to learn to think more creatively.
Another option is simply taking advantage of the plethora of reading material available on the subject of professional communication. Here is just one list of some very helpful publications on communication and listening.
A degree in communications is useful in human resources, for example, because HR professionals help to acquire top quality staff members; to get them up to speed and increase their value to the company; and most importantly to retain them with the company.
Of course, HR is only scratching the surface. There is a broad requirement for communications specialists in every field. The ways that we communicate are evolving so rapidly that there is a constant shortfall in the number of communication professionals available.
Marketing departments, public relations, and advertising are always scrambling trying to hire a communications guru. They are the people responsible for writing press releases, print campaigns, advertising scripts, and community relations material. You might end up in print journalism, online news or e-magazines, or even in film or video media.
While it seems the old adage that communication is only 7 percent verbal, and 93 percent non-verbal, may have a certain amount of weight to it, it is also true that words do carry the bulk of the information. However, the remaining elements do have a significant contribution to make, as it is the verbal and non-verbal components together, that assure the message is accurately conveyed and received.
Nowadays, there is a greater emphasis being placed by employers on the successful communication aptitude of their staff, and for good reason. It is the individual who can communicate effectively via all mediums (be it through email, video, face-to-face, or phone) who accomplishes the ultimate task of motivating and inspiring those with whom they come in contact.
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